And so, Xiulan started pouring her knowledge into her children. Until Shao Chen came back with the maid, Hei, Tianlan and Bai were repeatedly going through the fundamentals.
Xiulan decided to retrain Tianlan from the beginning seeing that he was rusty, so all three kids did the same activities.
When Shao Chen got back and saw this he was pleased.
“Mm. This is good. You’re already at this level.”
Shao Chen was impressed by how quickly Hei and Bai were picking up the skills.
“At this rate, my end of the agreement will be completed quite quickly and I’ll be able to live the rest of my life in peace.”
Hei heard this and his ear twitched.
“That’s nice for you Grandpa. Some of us have to work really hard to get a life of peace.”
“Hahaha. I also had my fair share of difficulties, you know?”
Shao Chen found Hei’s attitude amusing. Truth be told, he wouldn’t exactly jump at the chance to take Hei’s position.
Shao Chen then had them stop their practice. He then pointed at piles of parts that were placed on the floor by a few men who had come with him and the maid.
“These are the new beds. You can set them up yourselves.”
Hei couldn’t help speaking.
“Couldn’t you have those guys set them up?”
To which, Shao Chen replied.
“When you have perfectly good hands of your own? It is good for youngsters to do things for themselves. If you always rely on the help of others, what will you do when you find yourself alone?”
Shao Chen seemed to be really concerned about the future of his grandchildren.
Tianlan stepped in.
“I’ve heard all of that before Grandfather. The truth is you just want to reduce costs.”
Shao Chen laughed awkwardly. That was exactly right. Honestly speaking, he didn’t care either way, but why pay for things your grandchildren can do for free?
“That’s enough of that. Regardless of the reason, it is what it is. So get to work.”
Shao Chen said this with a smile. He then went over to bake some more bread.
After a few hours, all of the beds were built.
Hei, Tianlan and Bai were now in the room. There was only one room in the building, and that would be shared by the entire family of five.
Feeling a little bored, Hei spoke.
“We might as well spar a little.”
Seeing an obvious problem with the proposal, Bai responded.
“But this room… It’s a little small.”
“That’s good training for control and precision. We won’t always have abundant space to move around in.”
“That’s also true…”
Bai could understand this point. Although, she knew that the primary reason was that they had nowhere else to train for the time being.
After getting Bai’s agreement and the lack of disagreement from Tianlan, Hei spoke.
“If we’re going to do this, then you two should fight more in my style. We want to stabilise the environment as much as possible to prevent damage to our home.”
Bai and Tianlan agreed. It was one thing when they were causing damage in the Wu Clan, but to do so in their own home would be a little too much.
“Then let’s begin.”
Hei called for the start of their new training period.
For the next few days, the three would learn the art of baking by day, and train in the evening.
After a while, they became familiar with the regular customers and would have conversations with them.
“Ah, Little Hei, your bread is getting better by the day.”
“Mm. The same is true for Little Bai.”
“It’s a shame about Little Tianlan. You would think his bread would be the best of all. Sigh.”
The same three old people from the other day where here again. They remembered seeing Tianlan a few years ago, and he was already baking bread. They expected him to have come quite a distance since then, but the bread was barely any better.
On the other hand, they had seen Hei’s and Bai’s baking from day one. They were quite impressed by their rate of improvement.
Tianlan couldn’t help responding.
“That’s because we are training at the same pace. I didn’t want my little siblings to feel left behind.”
Hearing this, Hei’s ear twitched.
“Left behind? Tianlan, how could you lie to these nice people. We all know that you got rusty. Just admit it.”
“I may have gotten rusty, but at least I wasn’t in the oven for too long.”
The old people noticed Hei’s odd skin colour at this moment. It surprised them that they didn’t notice it sooner, after all, Hei was the only person they had ever seen who looked like that.
“Now that you mention it, why do you look like that Little Hei?”
“Mm. I never noticed it before, but your skin is very dark.”
Hearing the old people, Hei felt a little awkward.
‘You really didn’t notice? What kind of lack of awareness is that?’
“This is a unique physique. It’s called the Innate Shadow Physique.”
The old people then understood. In this world, even the common person would have some notion of cultivation and physiques.
“So does that mean you’re going to grow up strong and powerful?”
“Mm. I heard that those with unique physiques have an advantage.”
“Eh? Where did you hear that? My son also has a unique physique, but he’s useless. We call it the Lazy Bones Physique.”
The old people seemed to be enjoying themselves.
“Mm. In my case, the physique doesn’t really provide any benefits. I do have a stealth ability that I can use in the darkness though.”
The old people looked with shining eyes. Even though Hei said his physique didn’t help him, it was still rare to know someone with a unique physique.
“Well, when you become a powerful expert, just remember it was Old Yong who wished you success.”
“Don’t forget about Old Chaoxing.”
“Remember me as well, Old Hualing. I always said you would make it.”
“Of course. How could I forget our loyal customers? When I become a powerful expert, I’ll let the continent know that you’re my personal friends. How about that?”
Hei had learned how to talk to the loyal customers from Xiulan. She told him that they were to be treated like personal friends and should be cared for genuinely.
“Oho. Hopefully, we’ll still be here when you do.”
“That would be really nice. My grandson would be very jealous.”
“Mm. It looks like Little Xiulan is raising some good kids.”
The old people were quite pleased with Hei’s response. They didn’t really believe him though. Why would a powerful expert care about some old folk from a small city?
After this exchange, Hei decided it was time to get back to work.
“All right. We have some training to do. We’ll see you later.”
The three went to the room where they continued sparing.
At some point, Tianlan raised a concern.
“It looks like the Wu Clan has been quiet. It makes me feel uneasy. I would have expected them to have done something by now.”
“Mm. They are probably trying to figure out what our backing is.”
Bai added on.
“That’s right. It wouldn’t be wise to jump into a hole without knowing how deep it is. If the Wu Clan is smart, they should be monitoring us to try to discern if it would be worth taking action.”
“Ah. That makes sense.”
Tianlan was reassured hearing this. He continued.
“So, how do we extend this? It would be best if we kept them guessing, right?”
“I think we should take the turtle approach. We’ll stay in the bakery without leaving. This will confuse the Wu Clan because what they least suspect is that we have no backing at all.”
“Mm. Then, as Brother said, we’ll go to the Fang Clan. That would also act as a psychological attack. If they are surveying us, then what they will see is us staying in the bakery, then all of a sudden heading over to the Fang Clan.”
Hei added on.
“This also introduces the idea that we had been in communication with the Fang Clan for a while. Most likely that the Fang Clan was sending people over to the bakery, where we would liaise.”
Bai then added on.
“If this happens, it will force a question.”
Tianlan wasn’t quite sure what Bai was getting at.
“Simple. Who else in the Wu Clan is working with the Fang Clan? We’ll have introduced the idea of possible traitors, after all, why would the Fang Clan’s reach only extend to three children?”
Bai added on.
“That’s right. We’ll induce paranoia. The Wu Clan higher-ups will have to conduct internal cleaning, trying to purge any other Fang Clan operatives, which will leave them no room to think about us. You thought about all of this, Brother?”
“More or less.”
Bai was impressed by her brother’s foresight. To be able to think this far when venting his frustrations was quite impressive.
Hei added on.
“And that’s not all. Depending on the situation in the Fang Clan, we may be able to take them in as a subordinate clan.”
This was one of Hei’s bigger plans. He knew that with these two siblings of his, he would have an awful lot of leverage in negotiations.
Both Bai and Tianlan were shocked. Was their Brother crazy? To subordinate the number one clan in Spring Leaf City? With just them?
Hei was a little disappointed. He thought Bai would be able to think big as well.
“I see you don’t understand, Little Bai.”
Bai lowered her head in embarrassment. She had always received praise from her brother. This was the first time he was disappointed in her.
Hei saw this and he realised that he was expecting too much from her. He was able to come up with this idea because of the web novels he had read.
“No, Little Bai. It was my fault. You just need a little push. Let me ask you this. What are the most important things to a cultivator clan?”
Bai raised her head and hesitated before answering.
“That would be cultivation resources, cultivation techniques and combat techniques.”
“Right. We have no influence on the first one but the second one…”
Hei paused here. He wanted to give Bai a chance to figure it out for her self.
She thought for a while before her eyes shone.
“We can improve them!”
Hei was pleased. It seemed Bai had gotten on the same track as him. Tianlan, on the other hand, was still out of the loop.
“How does that let us subordinate the Fang Clan?”
This time, it was Bai who answered.
“The Fang Clan has cultivation techniques and combat techniques. If we show that we have the ability to improve them, it wouldn’t be difficult to have them agree to certain things. The only thing is, I don’t know if it would be enough to make them subordinate themselves to us.”
Bai looked towards Hei with a questioning look. As far as she was aware, it wouldn’t be so easy to make a clan willingly subordinate itself.
“Mm. It wouldn’t be enough on its own, but every clan needs an umbrella to stand under. The only clan without one is the Fang Clan as they are the number one clan and they also seem to serve as everyone else’s umbrella. What would happen if a new clan, for instance, the Shao Clan, were to rise to power all of a sudden?”
“The Fang Clan would feel threatened.”
“That’s right. And what if that new clan offered to help improve the Fang Clan at its core?”
“No choice but to submit.”
Bai looked at Hei with bright eyes. How did he come up with such a plan.
Tianlan was confused.
“How did we jump from offering help to having no choice but to submit?”
“What Brother is planning involves creating a shocking spectacle of revealing ourselves as a clan that came out of nowhere but has strength equal to or above the Fang Clan.”
“When that happens, the Fang Clan will feel incredibly threatened. If we then offer to help them and show that we have the ability, the Fang Clan will take the chance to become allies with us.”
“At that point, we will gain access to all of their cultivation techniques and combat techniques. We will fulfil our end of the deal by improving them, but along the way, we will also be learning the techniques of the number one clan in the city.”
Tianlan was starting to understand.
“And that’s not all. Once we learn all of their techniques, we will be far stronger than them. We would have reached their highest cultivation realm and will essentially become the overlords of Spring Leaf City.”
“And then the Fang Clan will submit to us willingly?”
“That’s right. At that point, they would have already considered us close friends and would have no problem doing our bidding.”
“This… You thought of all of this?”
Tianlan asked Hei. He was shocked at the depth of the plan which all started with slapping the faces of the Wu Clan.
“That’s the plan.”
“Then what do we do with the Fang Clan? Will we have them ruin the Wu Clan?”
“No, that isn’t necessary. The Wu Clan will be dealt with at the 5-sect summit. I plan to swallow up the Fang Clan before then.”
“In just three years?”
“Mm. The speed will depend on Little Bai, but don’t feel too burdened. The Fang Clan is just a bodyguard for Mumu and Grandpa, while we go out on our adventures.”
“Bodyguard? You planned all of this to get some bodyguards”
Tianlan was shocked. Even Bai didn’t think that this was the purpose.
“Mm. It is inevitable that we will make some enemies at some point, and they may try to attack our family, so as we go, I’ll establish safety measures for them to prevent tragedies and annoying ‘rescue the family’ side quests. Grandma is already pushing it, being who knows where. We’ll probably have to go find her at some point.”
Hei said this and sighed. There was a lot to think about when trying to go home.
Bai and Tianlan were lost for words, but they were impressed by their brother’s preventative measures. This made them more confident in going with his suggestions in the future.
For the next five months, the trio spent their time baking, cultivating and sparring.
Over time, the Shao Bakery became an area rich in elemental Qi. The three were always removing the null element Qi which allowed the elemental Qi to exist in higher concentrations.
After a while, the Qi started to affect the bread. The three could see the elderly customers more energetic and even Shao Chen said that the bread had become a low-grade cultivation resource.
This further increased business at the bakery, but Shao Chen made sure to prioritise the loyal customers.
Besides the changes to the environment, the three grew stronger day, by day. Bai and Tianlan could now cultivate for an entire day without issue, and their combat prowess improved by leaps and bounds as well.
It got to the point that Bai and Tianlan were having trouble restraining their strength. They were growing too fast to be able to adapt to their new found strength, so the bakery started taking damage.
One day, Shao Chen had had enough.
“If you brats want to keep bouncing off the walls, go somewhere else. This is a bakery, not a stadium.”
He said this as he picked the three up by the collars and threw them out of the store. He finished up by brushing off his hands.
Hei felt wronged. He didn’t cause any of the damage. It was all Tianlan and Bai, who couldn’t control themselves.
“This… Grandpa, we just wanted to train a little.”
“Go train somewhere else. This place is only for baking from now on. No martial arts!”
Shao Chen wasn’t having any of it. He turned around and closed the door.
Tianlan looked towards Hei and said.
“Well, where do we train now?”
Hei responded with a smile.
“I think it’s about time we head over to the Fang Clan. Let’s see how we compare.”
Bai responded with bright eyes.
“Are we starting the plan?”
“If the wind blows the right way.”
Hei said with a mischievous smile. He wanted to see if the time was opportune to rope in some bodyguards.
“Remember, it’s possible that we’re being observed. When we go to the Fang Clan, act like you own the place.”
Hei said this to his two siblings. He wanted it to appear as if they were on familiar terms with the Fang Clan.
Hei saw that his siblings understood, so he started walking to the Fang Clan.
He had already asked Shao Chen where it was and memorised the route. As a result, the three looked as if they were on a casual stroll through the city.
“They finally came out.”
“Mm. Let’s see what they’re up to.”
“This is our chance to find out who their backing is.”
“Those damn brats stayed cooped up in that bakery for five whole months. When I get my hands on them…”
“Quiet. It’s time to move. Don’t let them out of your sights.”